Sacrificing All for Children's Education in China + The Irony of It

I was riveted by Keith Bradsher’s NY Times piece on the front page of the print version of the paper today: In China, Families Bet It All on College for Their Children.

Through the journey of one family’s incredible, heart-wrenching sacrifices that the Times has been tracking for seven years, the piece showed how millions of Chinese sacrifice heavily for their children’s education.  The reality is that as graduates saturate the job market, the security they seek is increasingly elusive.  The story was sad, sobering, and a sense of overwhelming injustice pervaded my thoughts, as I read how rigged against less privileged families the bounties of education can be for hundreds of millions of young Chinese from poor families.  Bradsher also compared costs of U.S. college for families that must sacrifice to send their children on for higher education, to get a sense of relative terms.

As I was processing the overwhelming odds against students like Wu Caoying, I continued to read and turned to the next page, with the photo of the family, some text, and then a half-page ad for a luxury hotel in South Beach, Miami. The ultimate in pleasure and privilege.  I just gasped at this and had to share. ….The irony of it!  I think it also makes for great discussion fodder for high school and college students to consider:

  • What are the sacrifices their own families have made to get them to where they are, and ensure an education for them?
  • What do they think their own prospects for education helping them to “get ahead” might be?
  • What do they think about this juxtaposition of images – both contemporary and both reflecting either the realities or aspirations of large swaths of the world’s populations.
  • In the context of the Chinese family, and then the imaginary frolickers at the Hotel Fountainbleu, what does the word “deserving” conjure in your mind? Does learning the story of the family in the NYT piece impact your idea of “deserving”?
  • What might the juxtaposition of these images say about scarcity or abundance of the earth’s resources?

page A15 New York Times Sunday, February 17, 2013


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *